The backstory (part 1 perhaps)

Let me paint the scene: It’s very early morning on Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania. I’d driven through downpours in the Philly area that were reputed to stretch for kilometers, but the roads were dry here. I’d been seeing the sky lighten steadily for over an hour, and knew it was about sunrise, but here in the foothills between the Appalachian and Adirondack ranges, the sun itself might not become visible for a while. Thick patches of water vapor could be seen rising from the valleys, and I knew there would be something scenic to present itself if I kept my eyes open, ready to stop and grab the pic.

Descending, I crossed a bridge – one of many on the trip, but this one was over the Susquehanna River – glanced to the right, and leaned hard on the brakes. The cooler on the passenger seat alongside me headed towards the footwell but was stopped by the dash, while various items shifting on the rear seat could be heard. I was already well aware of the lack of traffic at this time and place, sharing the road with only the occasional rigs which weren’t even visible right then, so no hazards to anyone else with this maneuver. I quickly found a small apron before the offramp that came almost immediately after the bridge and knew the car could be well out of the way there. Hit the hazard lights, jumped out, grabbed the camera from the backseat, and trotted back up the road about a hundred meters to the bridge I’d just passed over.

misty sunrise over Susquehanna River
Seriously, would you have passed this up? All right, then. As indicated, most of the surrounding hills were still shrouding the sun from the rest of the landscape, and it was being in the river valley that allowed this view at that moment. Also, this was only a few days before the summer solstice, when the sun was as far north as it would get, so this particular view would be different for most of the remaining year since the sun would be off to the right.

misty sunrise over Susquehanna River
Had I hit the road ten minutes earlier, I could have caught the sun just making its appearance over that ridge, though it’s possible that, without the sun, I wouldn’t even have stopped; it was the distinct red ball over the water, seen in a mere second, that induced me to pull over so quickly. The mist differentiating the layers of trees gives extra depth to the scene, and the white balance was set for ‘sunlight’ to retain those orange hues – in truth, I rarely ever switch it off of that.

family of ducks on Susquehanna River at sunrise
One of the things I like about this is the incongruity, because I know I was standing on on the shoulder of an interstate bridge littered with scrap metal bits and gravel, bouncing under me as the rigs roared past at over 100 kph (usually politely switching lanes because they were empty enough,) the ambient sounds exchanging between that and the early morning birds as the trucks got far enough off. The images are all serene, giving no indication of the warehouse just a few hundred meters to the left, and within an hour or so, the traffic noise wouldn’t abate again until well after night had descended. Every time I see these images, I’ll make that association – which means anyone else will get a measurably better feeling from them than me, even though I’m pretty good about separating the visual aspect from the circumstantial.

Anyway, I got back on the road within a few minutes, happy that I had some solid images already from the trip.

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